A glamorous avoidance of color at Hillwood’s annual gala

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Marjorie Merriweather Post photographed by the legendary Alfred Eisenstaedt, featured in an exhibition of his work at Hillwood.

If there’s one thing Hillwood is known for — its color. But the estate went dark for its gala on June 4th — all in the name of good fun.

When its owner, the late cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, wasn’t lighting up society with her magnetic personality and dinner parties; her gardens, Faberge egg collection, and sumptuous paintings of Russian aristocracy were brightening up visitors to her Northwest Washington estate.

Every June, guests and supporters of Hillwood gather at its annual gala to take home a little of Marjorie’s magic. But this year the gala had a black out of sorts in honor of Hillwood’s latest exhibition on the photography of the late, great Alfred Eisenstaedt.


Mid-Century Master: The Photography of Alfred Eisenstaedt at Hillwood.

As Eisenstaedt’s work in the show focuses on his black and white portraits of luminaries like Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, and Marjorie herself, the dress code and theme of the evening was a glamorous avoidance of color.


Marilyn Monroe and Salvator Dali are featured in the exhibition.
As are Jacqueline Onassis and Ernest Hemingway.

There were a couple lone wolves who wore pink and purple ensembles-but most guests reveled in all black, all white, or bold polka dots and stripes.

The only pops of color wore the red florals on the tables-and the signature drink of the cocktail hour-the lemon Bellini. Place cards were a chic black and white stripe, as was the china. Menus were printed on faux camera film.


Black and white place cards and menus printed on faux camera film made for an enchanting evening.
Thirteen acres of beautiful formal gardens and dozens of whimsical sculptures envelop the property.






Marjorie would have appreciated these details, which made the evening so enchanting.

She was a hostess extraordinaire from Hillwood, to Europe, to Mar-a-Lago. (In case you’ve forgotten, she was the original owner.)

“We need more Majories these days,” one guest said before the three course meal of ricotta ravioli, steak, and chocolate mousse was served on Hillwood’s Lunar Lawn.


Guests relaxing on Lunar Lawn patio before dinner.

She was there in spirit, in fact.

Granddaughter, Ellen Charles, Hillwood’s grande dame and best ambassador, is always the center of attention-mostly because the dinner usually falls on her birthday as it did this year.

Her date was Jaesyn Iverson, Marjorie’s great-great-granddaughter.


Ellen Charles, Marjorie’s granddaughter, with her granddaughter, Jaesyn Iverson.

The exhibition opened to the public on June 8th.

The gala was attended by Nina Rumbough and Stan Rumbough, Donna and Bill Roberts; Gala chairs Mark Lowham, Shannon Stichman and Josh Hildreth; Board president Marcia DeWitt and first Vice President Amy Meadows; Richard and Nancy Marriott; Joan Nathan; Beth Newburger, Donald and Megan Beyer, and Michele Kang.


L. to r.: Brittany Bansak; Luna Levinson.
Nick Ucci, Bennett Stichman, and Ned Shannon.
L. to r.: Sophie Hawkins; Liz Sara and Ludy Green.
Marcia and Henry DeWitt.
Betsy Scott Kleeblatt, Esben Lunde Larsen, and Sally Bechara.

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